Friday, November 19, 2010
We all know about antibiotic resistant germs that tend to lurk about hospitals, but that was not the theme I had in mind. Neglect and mistaken drug dispensing are also dangerous, and not unheard of during a hospital stay. But we prepared for that by keeping a presence in Barbara's room as much as we could. There are other dangers the consequences of which may seldom be fatal, but they are very annoying. We experienced some of them this time.
On the first day after her surgery, I called from home fairly early in the morning and got the busy signal. Okay, someone from back east must have called. When I tried again later in the morning I got a ring. The ring continued until I was imagining a scenario where the doctor was visiting and giving her some important information, or she was out walking with the physical therapist, or she was whisked away to the ER or something else equally dramatic. After the third vain call attempt, I called the desk of the third floor and tried to explain my problem. Evidently I did not communicate clearly enough because all he did was connect my call to the line to Barbara's room, the very line of which I was complaining. The results were the same. Plenty of ringing, but no answering.
Needless to say we (our daughter and I) jumped into our clothes and drove over to see for ourselves. We found Barbara moping because she had not heard from me (or anyone else). I explained the situation, and housekeeping began to work on the problem. After trying two other phones and discovering it was possible to call out, but incoming calls still did not make the phone ring, housekeeping put a call in for the telephone expert. When he came and shared his superior wisdom, he unwrapped a brand new instrument, mumbled something about these being cheap trash, and installed a phone that actually worked.
There was a machine that pumped leg pouches to encourage circulation and prevent clots. On the second day it stopped working. Donna noticed this and told the nurse, but nothing happened. Since we were there for just a case as this, we made sure that it was finally fixed.
The nurses all were very sweet and caring-even Sergio and Florante, her male nurses. They assured Barbara that when she need a Demerol shot she only needed to push the call button. You may have already guessed that that was not working either. Again my presence helped to cure the problem post haste. It seems the cord was not plugged into the wall. The connection was similar to the kind of connectors that a monitor uses to talk to the computer. And it was barely fitting in its connection junction. After that, every time she wanted to call the nurse, I had to look above the door in the hallway to make sure the light was lit.
Over her knee, with its 18 staples (yes, I counted) there was another pouch through which ice water was pumped to minimize the swelling. Then a hospital gofer came to install the bar over the bed with the dangling triangle so Barbara could pull herself up when she tended to slip down toward the foot of the bed. He had leaned some of the poles of this contraption against the bed, and one of them fell to the floor. But instead of hitting the floor with a clang, it struck the ice water pump at the exact point where the hose is attached, broke the hose and spilled water all over the floor. I now see why so very many towels are used in the hospital. He grabbed about four or five of them and just tossed them in the puddle. Providence made sure that another machine was readily available, and eventually the pump and the bar were successfully installed.
Just imagine: this was all during one brief hospital stay!